Fleeing heated religious and political hostility and persecution, many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (widely known as Mormons) abruptly fled their homes in Nauvoo, Illinois in February 1846. Unprepared for the cold of winter, these pioneers traveled 265 agonizing miles in four months. Heavy spring rains that year turned the rolling plains of southern Iowa into quagmire of axle-deep mud. Sheer exhaustion and a lack of provisions continually hampered their efforts triggering the decision to stop and winter over near the banks of the Missouri River. In the spring of 1847, after a respite and an opportunity to make better travel plans, 143 men, three women and two boys started across Nebraska for the new Zion on the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
Following a rough trace blazed by earlier explorers, fur traders and missionaries, this pioneering group began laying out a route to the West that would alter be used by thousands of other Mormons and Forty-niners. These first pioneers established ferries, campsites, bridges and supply depots - improvements that earned the route it's name "The Mormon Trial."